Samurai Dave: The Roving Ronin Report

Rambling Narrative of Travels, Thoughts, and Embellishments

Joma Shinji – Kyudo (Japanese Archery) Exorcism Ritual for New Years

Joma Shinji is a New Year’s Japanese Archery Ritual for driving away evil for the coming year. Six archers dressed in formal samurai kimono known as kariginu shoot two arrows a piece at a large circular target. On the back of the target is painted an upside kanji character for “oni” which means “devil.” Striking the target is believe to expel evil particularly shots which pass through the oni character.

Since ancient times in Japan, arrows have been seen as having the power to banish and destroy evil. Even the twanging of bow strings is thought to ward away evil spirits. During New Year’s, decorative wooden arrows are sold at temples and shrines as good luck charms for the coming year.

Joma Shinji takes place at Tsurugaoka Hachimangu Shrine in Kamakura on January 5th. The ritual dates back to a time when Kamakura was the military capital of Japan (1185-1333). The first hereditary shogun, Minamoto no Yoritomo, promoted a variety of military type rituals usually involving archery such as Joma Shinji. In his day, the bow was the primary weapon of the samurai, their profession being known as “The Way of the Horse and Bow.”

Yoritomo was keen that his warriors not become soft even in times of peace. He was all too mindful of what had happened with his enemies, the Taira family. The Taira were once the dominate samurai clan of Japan but they became too intoxicated with the luxuries that power can bring and many of them preferred to excel in non-warrior pursuits such as music and poetry.

War broke out between the Taira and Minamoto and eventually the Taira were utterly defeated in 1185. It has often been pointed out that the Taira’s love of luxury and leisurely pursuits were a major factor in their downfall. Yoritomo did not want the same happening to his samurai so he decided to place his shogunate capital in Kamakura far away from the debilitating influence of the aristocratic culture of Kyoto and he encouraged the continual practice of the bow in annual rituals and contests.

Today the Ogasawara Ryu, a school of Japanese Archery, conducts the Joma Shinji Ritual. The Ogasawara school and clan was established in the Kamakura Era by Ogasawara Nagakiyo who became an archery instructor to Yoritomo. The Ogasawara Ryu does a number of archery events throughout the year including Yabusame, mounted archery.

For more photos check here: Joma Shinji Photos

January 22, 2012 - Posted by | 2012, Archery, culture, history, japan, japanese archery, japanese culture, japanese history, Japanese martial arts, kyudo, New Years, Shinto, travel, youtube, zen | , , , , , , , , ,


  1. Hello again “Dave”….I have been looking thru all your blogs, posts or whatever you want to call them that pertains to “Japanese History”……gee “Dave”, why nothing on WW2 Japanese history?…Not one thing about Japan and their conquests of China and the Philippines?….why is that “Dave”?…are you scared of what you might find out?….Do you need a lesson? I can be that teacher for you and can tell you all about the Japanese during WW2….How about a blog about the use of “comfort women” during WW2?…..can you do that?….I have many pictures of Japanese attrocities taken during their incursion into China and in the Philippines. I even have a really good picture of an Austrailian soldier who was cannabalized by Japanese soldiers during their campaign in New Guinea, it was such a great pic that I posted it on my WW2 History page I run on Facebook and that it got me kicked off and blocked from using Facebook for 7 days!!…now that kind of picture would really be a good addition to your nifty little Japanese lover blog you have here….

    Comment by Woody | September 9, 2013 | Reply

    • If you actually paid attention to my posts you would have noticed those posts which reference history are generally if not almost always related to festivals not Japanese history in itself. You make some bold accusations based on nothing but your own insane assumptions. I think you are suffering from the side effects of your medication which has caused you to become irrational, illogical, and full of anger. I suggest for the sake of your delicate mental health to refrain from posting such long rambling diatribes that do little to aid your cause. Drink tea and meditate, grasshopper.

      Comment by samuraidave | September 9, 2013 | Reply

  2. All I have accused the Japanese of is historical fact, if you can’t understand that, then its you that is delusional. Do some reading on the Japanese occupation of China and the Philippines during World War 2…..if you dare, but I know you won’t because you know dam well what I have posted is all the truth….thats what you’re scared of…the truth…

    Comment by Woody | September 9, 2013 | Reply

    • All you have done is made yourself out to be a raving lunatic and done more to harm the cause of those seeking redress and apologizes over Japanese atrocities. You are an unhinged person who needs professional help. I’m sure there are some qualified psychologists in Kansas who can help you with your issues.

      Comment by samuraidave | September 9, 2013 | Reply

      • Hi Dave, your collection of Japanese matsuri videos is great, I would love to use some of your video materials in my project, if that’s possible. Please contact me to discuss this matter as well as copyright permission etc.
        Looking forward for your response

        Comment by Alina K | February 2, 2016

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